It's a new year and time once again to give a new look to this blog. New graphics and colors. Same bike writer!

This blog is created not only to track my own progress on my biking journey but it is intended to also assist others who have either osteo or rheumatoid arthritis or both like I do. I hope as you read about the progress I have made that it gives you inspiration and hope that you can overcome the dibilitating effects of these conditions.

If your doctor agrees that you should be capable of expanding your limits read on and don't be afraid, just listen to your body and give it challenges. Biking is a great non-impact form of exercise and greatly enhances flexibility and range of motion.

It's not a substitute for Doctor visits, taking your meds or otherwise getting off your health plan but it auguments what your Doctor does for you and can give you a better quality of life. Go for it!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Reader Contest

I invite readers to share their best bicycle ride story.  If you're following this blog you've read about my favorite bike ride now I'd like to read about yours. 

1.  Your favorite ride (yeah, I know it's hard we love them all) and a short story about it, photos appreciated.

2.  Respond via a comment to this post.

3.  Deadline is July 6th, 2012.

4.  Readers will be the judge by voting after all entries are in.

5.  Prize is bragging rights! and a feature on your blog if you have one.

I'm looking forward to reading about your rides whether recent events, childhood memories or something in between, share the fun!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

St. Joseph Hospital to Ford Lake

Overlook at Ford Lake

Observation Deck at Ford Lake

Boardwalk over lake, water on both sides Eagle Crest Golf Club on the left

Series of islands with arched bridges jutting out into North Bay on Ford Lake

Very nice colored concret bike trail crossing markers

Me down below

This trip was taken with my bike writing friend Deb A, we began at the campus of St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, the trail winds around the grounds and where the trail crosses a driveway they have really neat color concrete markings to help alert drivers.  I'm going to call our engineers tomorrow who are working on phase II of our non motorized path and discuss this type of marking for where the path crosses the US23 freeway exit and entrance ramp.

After winding around the campus the trail passes by Eastern Michigan University football stadium, the Convocation Center then veers off through the woods for a straight mile or more and then it's onto city sidewalks around the Eastern Campus, along Huron Drive, some residential neighborhoods and into Riverside Park and Frog Island.  Up above the river at street level is downtown Ypsi where we wandered around for a bit then headed south out of town and to Ford Lake near Bellville.  Ford Lake was created by Henry Ford (the auto mogul) who damed the river into this made made lake to use the hydro electric power for one of his plants.  The lake and area affords ample recreation opportunities with a trail around much of the lake, picnic and hiking areas, boating, kayaking, canoeing and a spectacular golf course Eagle's Crest.  It was a great ride and on Thursday the weather was perfect around 70 degrees, no humidity and abundant sunshine.  Round trip was just a hair under 15 miles.

If you'd have asked me two weeks ago, this ride would have seemed like a far away dream as I had not been able to get around much at all on foot let alone on a bike.  I saw the orthopedic surgeon last week who did total knee replacement on my left knee in 2007 and the xrays showed bone on bone with my right knee.  I had asked him if I was a candidate to get gel injections so that I could have some relief until after the campaign is over but he did not think that they would be of any help as the cartilage and cushioning is gone.  The pain is caused by rough bone edges against rough bone.  I'd just had a cortisone injection into the knee joint a couple of weeks prior and also an injection of steriod system wide and am taking a prednesone dose pack.  When that ran it's course I got on a low dose of prednesone daily for a short time until I can schedule surgery.  It sure is difficult to schedule surgery while I am feeling so very well at the time, however I don't believe this will last more than a few weeks and if I'm lucky a few months.  I am thinking right before the election in the fall of having this done.  Much will depend on scheduling surgery and my over all health.  If I can wait as long as December or the first of the year I will, however I believe that is being overly optimistic. 

It's a tough call right now, I am in the throes of an active political campaign for an August primary election and a November General election.  I run an aggressive door to door campaign and visit each home in the township, it's tough to abruptly halt that, however where I was a couple of weeks ago I wasn't doing anybody anygood, now I'm semi on the mend and got several hours of campaigning in this weekend.  One good thing is that I get to ride my bike, exercise, keep flexibility and range of motion up with my knee/leg and campaign at the same time.  Double duty...  Decisions, decisions...what is a girl to do?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Back To Riding

Miracle cure?  Modern medicine?  I'm unsure what is responsible for the turn for the better but I am grining ear to ear over feeling chipper.  A series of RA flareup's culminating in the mother-of-all-flareups left me all but incapacitated.  It was difficult if not impossible to sit, lay, stand, sleep, walk or otherwise just be in the world.  Pain was my companion and my shadow.  After a series of injections and new meds I am able to get around nearly as normal. 

Color me a very very happy camper!

I've been getting out and about on my bike in little jaunts.  Yesterday I celebrated with a grand ride, exploring the lower portion of the B2B bike trail from St. Jos hospital to Ford Lake.  That was quite a ride.  Photos and a more detailed report tomorrow.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Best Ride - Writing Prompt

A group of bike friends who like to ride and write which I am a part of likes to get together after a ride and swap writing stories and such.  At times one of our members will put out a writing prompt and the prompt for this blog post was writing about your best ride. 

My best bike ride…

This is really a tough choice to narrow it down to one, they’re all good rides. Some are outstanding, a handful are spectacular and a couple are epic. But the rule says one, so here it is. In the first year that I took cycling back up I found a new-to-me-trail. The ironic part is that I had started out on a different ride and had a flat. My ride looked to be ruined because this was before I learned to fix my own flats. I took it to the shop and much to my surprise they were able to repair it while I waited. Ok, so now my riding day was not shot, just shortened and that caused me to chose a different ride and I wanted to blaze a new path. I had read a bit about the border to border trail in Ann Arbor but barely knew anything about it. I had spied a parking lot where I often saw people unloading bikes and taking off down a trail, so I set out someplace new. I quickly found out I was on the trailhead of the B2B trail. The trail started out in as park like setting, meandered along the Huron River, took me right over the top of a dam with water rushing under my wheels, and past a canoe livery.

Without a map and the trail only being sketchily marked I wandered off track for a while looking where to pick up it up again. After the bridge over the dam it was either left or right. Left took me to the canoe livery, another park, a very wicked hill and neighborhoods with houses. I couldn’t find the trail pickup point. Back to the canoe livery and right at the dam took me on a very narrow rutted path that was dirt, however it ran alongside the river on one side and had backwaters on the other (future home of Argo Cascades). After passing by a canoe portage ramp and around an electric power plant I was able to pick up the trail again as it traveled back alongside the river and through another park. The park turned abruptly into a densely populated apartment high rise and dead ended in a parking lot. Faced again with a right or left I chose right again and was greeted with a small B2B sign indicating that I was still on the trail.

Up a steep hill and near the top I realized I was coming up to the front of the University of Michigan Hospital Complex, more signage at the top of the hill indicated a left turn along now city streets, past a community swimming pool, a set of soccer fields and veered right and back into the woods along the river again. I later learned that this was called the arboretum mile section and it was beautiful, straight and densely wooded with the river on one side. This took me into an area just above Gallup Park that was called Fursternberg Nature Area where I got off the main trail and took a meander around and through some dense woods on a narrow foot trail that had me climbing and lifting my bike over a couple of deadfalls.

I picked the trail back up when I came out of the wooded area with the circular path in it and bore to my right again and came upon Gallup Park. The river widened out quite a bit here into what looked more like a long narrow lake. There was a canoe livery there with a concession stand that had beverages and ice cream. The area had lots of benches and picnic tables with large groups of people enjoying the outdoors in many different ways. Again the path made a loop around that portion of the river that looked like a lake with a series of small wooden bridges over a series of tiny little islands. There was a butterfly farm, a fountain, places to fish or put in a rowboat or canoe, and several places with playground equipment and picnic pavilions scattered in various places in this big park.

After making a loop I kept along the main path leaving the park behind and the trail continued along the river through wooded sections. I came to another dam and found by trial and error and making different choices, backtracking that I could bear to the right and wind through what is called Parkers Mill and end up in nearly the same place topside on the roads or bearing to the left over the dam up a wickedly steep hill and over a bridge over the top of the river, dam and park and end up on surface streets right before Washtenaw Community College with St. Joseph Mercy Hospital complex looming just ahead about a ¼ mile.

At that point I realized just how far I had come and decided to head back and explore the lower half of the trail on a different day. I was amazed at the distance covered and nearly all of it via bike pathway with a little bit of off road and some city streets thrown in. More incredible yet was the variety of terrain and scenery that this path carried me past. One moment you would be in densely wooded areas that seemed wild and remote only to round a bend and find yourself in a city/urban environment. The trail was richly diverse, provided me with an awesome adventure, great views and a wonderful experience. Discovering a new trail is such an adventure and satisfies the curious explorer in me. Exploring is one of my favorite pastimes, it dovetails nicely with bicycling.